Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Governance Failure?

India’s income per head grew more than fourfold between 1990 and 2010; yet the proportion of underweight children fell by only around a quarter. By contrast, Bangladesh is half as rich as India and its income per head rose only threefold during the same period; yet its share of underweight children dropped by a third and is now below India’s... Brazil cut the number of underweight people by 0.7% a year between 1986 and 1996 and reduced stunting by 1.9% a year. Bangladesh reduced both rates by 2% a year in 1994-2005...

... better nutrition can be a stunningly good investment. Fixing micro-nutrient deficiencies is cheap. Vitamin supplements cost next to nothing and bring lifelong benefits. Every dollar spent promoting breastfeeding in hospitals yields returns of between $5-67. And every dollar spent giving pregnant women extra iron generates between $6-14. Nothing else in development policy has such high returns on investment.

(HT: The Economist)

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